“Diversity” is a bad word

The CDC banned words list is a Macro Micro-aggression against millions of people

Before I start off this post, I want to say this: I don’t care if you are conservative, or liberal, Republican or Democratic or an Independent Voter. It really does not matter to me. I’ve said several times before on this blog that I really care about using it to start a community, and that community is anyone who cares about health, especially mental health. The fact that our current political state has people divided onto two opposing sides is a completely different issue that I might get to in a later post, but right now, I want to focus on this one- the fact that “diversity” is among several words that are banned for the CDC. Not only is this completely discriminatory, but it’s also really stupid. The information that the CDC reports influences what the public is able to know about disease and disease control. What information we, as the public receive influences the way we understand health and how we take care of ourselves. 

All seven of the words on the list (vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based) are words that the CDC cannot really stop using. How is the CDC supposed to talk about diseases and conditions that influence new mothers and their unborn children (HIV, which can be passed from the mother to the fetus, or micro-nutrient deficiencies, which can influence the health of the fetus)? How do we talk about differences to accessibility of healthcare without mentioning that different people have different amounts of vulnerability to diseases, and how a person’s accessibility is influenced by diversity as well as entitlement?

Particularly important in talking about mental health care is the term “evidence-based“. If you’ve ever seen a therapist or psychologist while facing a mental illness or mental health issue, chances are you’ve been treated with an evidence-based treatment (EBT). Those of us who have anxiety disorders, OCD, or phobias, or even an eating disorder have probably been treated using an exposure therapy-type treatment. Basically, since all of these disorders are based around issues with control, therapists usually have the person with any of these disorders engage in the behavior they are afraid of, and then respond to it. Eventually, the person sees that they are okay, and that there is nothing to be afraid of or worried about. Slowly, as the person learns not to fear what they were previously afraid of, the issue is reduced.

Evidence-based treatment is super important not just in psychology, but in most clinical fields. Clinicians trust them because they are evidence-based- there is EVIDENCE that they work. I’ll hopefully be talking about how some forms of these treatment can be applied right at home to reduce stress and anxiety on my blog in 2018.

Getting back into it, you might be wondering- why can’t the CDC just find different terms to use? The administration suggested that instead of saying science-based and evidence-based, the CDC use terms like “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” (CNN ).

Let me try to describe the issue with this using something outside of health terms- what if we decided that the word “orange” was banned, and instead we decided to describe it using “a color that is a perfect blend between yellow and red”. Both “orange” and the description of the color are simply talking about the same thing- the color orange. But reading the a longer description of it is distracting, and when the term is more scientific, it can also get more confusing for those are not familiar with the terminology.

The purpose of the Center of Disease Control is to get people information on prevalent diseases, how they come about, and how they can be prevented. The information that they disseminate is necessary for people to be able to take care of themselves. And so far from being ridiculous, this list of banned words is harmful to EVERYONE.

Finally, let’s talk a little bit about the underlying issue of this list of banned words- it’s discriminatory. It’s no secret that people of color, people who are not heterosexual and people who are not cisgender, and people who are socially and economically underprivileged, face the most health risks, and are less likely than others to have easy accessibility to health care.

The dictionary defines microaggression as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group”. This is exactly what this list of banned words- it is a macro-scale microaggression against many of people in the United States, because it prevents the CDC from giving people the health care information that they need.

I’ll close this post by reminding everyone that this is not an issue of whether you are religious or not, or believe in abortion rights or not, or even support science or not. It’s completely understandable that everyone has their own beliefs on these topics. But these are topics that deserve to be addressed, and not by pitting people against each other. They deserve to be talked about, and everyone deserves to be heard out and respected for their own truth.

This is not an issue of which side is right in their beliefs: this is an issue of human rights- the right that everyone should have to access information on healthcare, and healthcare itself.



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